Native WordPress Comments Are Slower Than Disqus

native wordpress comments are slower than disqus

A lot of people seem to use native WordPress comments because they think it is faster than anything else. Disqus seems to have a very bad rap from what I have seen in the WordPress community. The truth is, if you setup Disqus in a certain way, it is actually much faster than native WordPress comments. I compared three different setups: native WordPress comments, the default Disqus plugin, and the Disqus Conditional Load plugin. And guess what? Native WordPress comments weren’t the fastest.

Now there are other reasons such as privacy concerns that some bloggers choose not to use Disqus. Chris Lema has an interesting post on why he killed Disqus on his site. Others think that the comments aren’t stored in the WordPress database, when it fact they do sync across. Also you can enable guest posting for those of you who claim you can’t. But I don’t want to go into any of that here, the speed is what I want to compare.

Native WordPress Comments

So I first ran tests on my post with native WordPress comments, without Disqus. I tested in both Pingdom and WebPageTest. Pingdom and GTMetrix don’t yet support HTTP/2 so remember that when you are running speed tests. They are still using an old version of Google Chrome. HTTP/2 requires Chrome 40 or higher. I still tested with Pingdom anyways as I know a lot of you are familiar with it. All of these tests were run multiple times and I took the average/median one.

Pingdom

In Pingdom I got a total load time of 768ms on my median run.

pingdom native wordpress comments
Src: Pingdom Test

WebPageTest

In WebPageTest I got 3.262s on my median run.

webpagetest native wordpress comments
Src: WebPageTest

Default Disqus System

Then I enabled Disqus and ran the tests again.

Pingdom

In Pingdom I got a total load time of 842ms on my median run.

pingdom disqus comments
Src: Pingdom Test

WebPageTest

In WebPageTest I got 4.689s on my median run.

webpagetest disqus
Src: WebPageTest

 

Disqus Conditional Load Plugin

I then disabled the Disqus plugin and enabled the Disqus Conditional Load plugin (which is free by the way!). This plugin allows you to lazy load Disqus upon scrolling down. I then ran the tests again.

Pingdom

In Pingdom I got a total load time of 672ms on my median run.

pingdom lazy load disqus
Src: Pingdom Test

WebPageTest

In WebPageTest I got 3.004s on my median run.

webpagetest lazy load disqus
Src: WebPageTest

I saw an average 10% increase in speed by using Disqus vs native WordPress comments!

mind blown
Src: quickmeme

So at the time of testing the post had 35 comments on it. When you use the native WordPress commenting system it generates an individual HTTP request for each of the gravatars. That is the huge performance issue with native comments. Obviously if you only average 2-3 comments per post, native might be the way to go. But when you have 5 or more comments per post I seriously suggest taking a look at the Disqus Conditional Load plugin. You can lazy load on scroll or also on click. By lazy loading it doesn’t generate an HTTP request for each gravatar until the user initiates it.

There are some weird workarounds on the web to lazy load gravatars with native comments and also plugins, but most of them are out of date or don’t work correctly. One plugin has a bug where it will lazy load custom avatars but not the default one. You could accomplish this by lazy loading all your images with WP Rocket, but I personally hate when images don’t pop up right away when scrolling.

I’m not saying Disqus is amazing, I still hate loading a count.js file just to sync comment counts. But when it comes to total HTTP requests and speed, the lazy load works great. And with Disqus it cuts out literally 99% of spam so I can focus on other things. Also note: as Mark mentioned below in the comments, on highly volume sites you might need to disable the auto-sync due to AJAX calls.

Download Disqus Conditional Load

What are your thoughts on Disqus? Do you prefer native comments or perhaps another commenting system? Let me know below.

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7 thoughts on “Native WordPress Comments Are Slower Than Disqus

  1. I love Disqus and recommend it to everyone. The conditional load plugin is a great idea too, however as Disqus is loaded after rendering the page most visitors won’t notice the additional time while it loads especially that it’s usually at the end of the post! By the time they get there it will have surely loaded :)
    Other than that when you have a high traffic site that’s causing performance issues be sure to disable the automatic synching of Disqus with the built-in WP comments as that will kill your server in itself (ajax call to WP on each page load)… :-/

  2. Initially, I was using the native comments tuned in with Jetpack, to then remove Jetpack completely. I then installed a couple of comment plugins and notice that in fact, most slowed down the site so something had to be done.

    After going back and forward testing site load and the amount of extra CSS and JS required, I opted by adopting Disqus as you are carefully detailed. The major advantage is that Disqus is already widely used by many people so they don’t feel forced to sign up for an account to comment on the site. Also, even with social logins, they don’t feel at ease to associate another account under their name, so things above all, work well and the interaction is more widely spread across the site.

    • Hey Alex.
      Ya a lot of people use Disqus now so I think people are used to it like you said. And Disqus lets you enable guest commenting, so there is still an option not to login at all for those that don’t want to associate with social.

  3. Oh that is very interesting. Didn’t think about the bots following the default URLs for native comments. Ya, I am still loving the Disqus setup, as long as you use the lazy load version and enable the “caching” option under settings. Works great!

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